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After a few months of rumors, Sony has finally announced another massive Bob Dylan box set — The 1966 Live Recordings. Weighing in at 36 (!) discs, it collects every known recording of Dylan’s confrontational 1966 tour of Australia and the UK (along with a handful of audience tapes from the US) with the Hawks, who were soon to morph into The Band. Overkill? Sure. But obsessives (guilty as charged) will love trawling through these tapes, many of which have never been bootlegged, savoring every Dylan inflection, every Garth Hudson organ fill, every slashing Robbie Robertson solo. It’s some of the most powerful rock and roll ever made.

With such a wealth of live ’66 recordings on the way soon, it’s easy to forget that for decades, the only official evidence of this epochal tour was a Liverpool performance of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” tucked away on the b-side of the “I Want You” seven-inch. Released just a few weeks after the concert itself, it’s easy to see why it sent Dylanologists on a mad hunt to dig up any and all recordings from 1966. Revisit it for a taste of the glories to come, as Dylan and the Hawks roar through the tune, making its Highway 61 Revisited studio counterpart sound like a pleasure cruise in comparison. words / t wilcox

Dylan & The Hawks :: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Liverpool, 1966)

dbt_americanband_coverThis Friday, September 30th will see the release of the eleventh studio album by the Drive-by Truckers. American Band is a tight, dark album comprised of the type of songwriting that Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have excelled at for years – specific stories that explore and reverberate through universal ideas. While the band has often examined political and social ideas freely via individual songs, American Band marks the first time Drive-by Truckers have explored and documented these ideas an album length statement. Aquarium Drunkard talked with Hood and Cooley separately by phone about the new album, what it means to make an entire record like this, the troubles of getting an album on to a single LP, and why we just need to love each other, motherfuckers.

Aquarium Drunkard: One of the biggest notes about this album ahead of time is that American Band is a pretty explicitly political record. You guys have written political songs before – “Putting People On the Moon” for instance – but it’s never dominated an album the way they do here. Was there any hesitation on your part in approaching a record in that capacity?

Patterson Hood: I’ve always thought of our music and our songs as political. I was kind of taken aback by how many people seem shocked by the political nature of this record because I’ve always felt that way about our music. Especially “Putting People On the Moon.” At the time that came out, it really polarized a lot of people. When we were touring behind The Dirty South – which was at the height of the 2004 Bush-Kerry election – there were people really irate about that song every night. Every single night we had people shooting us birds and yelling shit at us when we played that song. And then it just went away. We kept playing the song and people stopped reacting that way. I don’t know if those people just left, or just got used to it, or if the election was over and they moved on. I don’t know. I never even questioned it. I just noticed it.

Mike Cooley: I wasn’t too worried about it. I figured we’d lose a few people, but I’ve never been worried about getting Dixie Chick’d. We never had a huge country radio, right wing audience anyway. And the threatening comments that are bound to come, I’m not worried about those either, but you can’t write those songs, you can’t pay enough attention to that subject matter without knowing how people might feel about it.

PH: And there’s always been that aspect. “The Living Bubba” – even though the lyrics say “I’ve never had much use for politics” – I’ve always considered that to be a political song. The fact that people were still dying of AIDS in 1996, 15 years into the crisis and 20 years into the disease itself – people were still dying; especially people who didn’t have the money for the best health care. I’ve always considered all of that part of what we do.

I guess the big difference with this record isn’t how political it is, but the lens it’s shot through, to put it in movie terms. I’m always using the parallel to the movie Chinatown which is one of my all-time favorite films. It was such a product of its time. It was all about the social and political mores of the early-to-mid 70s and yet it was set in the 30s. We’ve always done that with our work – we’ve done a lot of period pieces, which has never been en vogue in rock and roll, yet we’ve always delved into that. “Putting People On the Moon” which we put out 12 years ago was set in the 80s, even though I considered it more than timely in 2004 during that presidential season. That song talked about Reagan, it talked about political decisions made in the Reagan era that were still affecting people in 2004 and 2016. Likewise, Southern Rock Opera, which was set in the time of my coming of age – in the 70s against the backdrop of the rise-and-fall of arena rock and Watergate and [George] Wallace and the post-Civil Rights South – to me, that was still relevant when we wrote it which was now 20 years ago. That record and this record have a lot in common even though they’re musically world’s apart to be from the same band. There’s a lot we were talking about on that record that we’re still talking about with this album, just maybe in a more grown-up way.

fa“High vibrations … Transformations … Let’s go higher.” These are among the opening words of Family Atlantica’s Soundways release Cosmic Unity, the second such offering from the London-based ensemble with roots in Africa and Venezuela. Such is the group’s nature: a heady and eclectic brew of latin funk, calypso, African highlife, and even Ethiopian jazz (the Mulatu Astatke-vibes on “Enjera” are unmistakable, and come as no surprise, as the man himself appeared on the group’s self-titled debut). This go-round features contributions from Sun Ra Arkestra’s Marshall Allen on alto saxophone, electronic winds and vocals, and Nigeria’s Orlando Julius on tenor sax.

With that pedigree, soaring horns, meditative vibraphone, fierce polyrhythms, wah-wah guitar, blues vamps and afro-funk chants (some sung, some spoken word) all meld together in seamless, cosmic unity. As a whole the record cuts a dense, tropical swath stretching across fifteen tracks (some coming in at just under a minute) — a “vast web of diverse musical styles…a sonic kaleidoscope…united by an echoing resonance of Africa,” as bandleader Jack Yglesias puts it. Fast paced energy, political undertones and vibrant diversity lend this record an almost psychedelic quality, and a timeless one at that.  words / c depasquale

Family Atlantica :: Okoroba

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John Coltrane would’ve turned 90 today, and even though he passed on all the way back in 1967, the music he made still reverberates with a power and clarity that refuses to be dimmed by age. His work has been pored over endlessly by listeners and scholars, but there are still countless gems to be found or re-discovered. Case in point, this hazy 1962 rendition of “Naima,” performed with his mighty quartet (McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison) in Paris. The recording is pretty far from hi-fi, but Coltrane easily cuts through the murk. “Naima” boasts one of the saxophonist’s prettiest melodies, but as with almost everything he did, Coltrane plays it restlessly, exploring every contour, discovering the tune as it unfolds, heading towards its gentle climax. Ascension achieved.  words / t wilcox

The John Coltrane Quartet :: Naima (Paris, 1962)

2001681Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 449: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Dorothy Ashby – Soul Vibrations ++ Pharoah Sanders – Love Is Everywhere (excerpt)  ++ Eddie Gale – The Rain ++ Steve Reid – Lions Of Juda ++ Carsten Meinert Kvartet – Blues To Someone ++ Cecil Mcbee – Voice Of 7th Angel ++ Ornette Coleman – All My Life ++ Don Cherry – Marimba, Goddess Of Music ++ Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra – Angels And Demons At Play ++ Joe Henderson Featuring Alice Coltrane – Earth ++ Alice Coltrane – Paramahansa Lake ++ Ellington, Mingus, Roach – Fleurette Africaine ++ Chico Hamilton Quintet – Blue Sands ++ Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Featuring The Art Ensemble Of Chicago – Tanka 2 ++ The Jimmy Giuffre 3 – The Green Country (new England Mood) ++ Duke Ellington & John Coltrane – In A Sentimental Mood ++ The Tony Williams Lifetime – There Comes A Time ++ Kikagaku Moyo – Green Sugar ++ Ryo Kawasaki – Raisins ++ Ramases – Dying Swan Year 2000 ++ François De Roubaix – Survol ++ John Entwistle – Heaven and Hell ++ Bo Hansson – Waiting ++ Earth and Fire – Storm and Thunder ++ Bo Hansson – Hybrillerna ++ Ramases – Molecular Delusion ++ Apple – The Otherside ++ Socrates – Mountains ++ Radim Hladik – Cajovna ++ Alan Hull – Drug Song ++ Ramases – Earth People

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.

Holy Sons, the nom-de-tune of Emil Amos, is set to release In The Garden via Partisan Records on October 21st. For this installment of Diversions, Amos tackles the art of the b-side, touching on British psych, stadium rock solo projects, American funk and more. Amos, in his own words, below.

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When it gets around midnight and I can officially release myself from the deadlines and stress of the workday, the whiskey glass comes out again and I reach for that stack of records that also represents being a slave to no one. Budgets and matters of capitalism have always controlled most of what we’re delivered as music fans… but there’s always been a trench off the beaten path where artists disregard these constraints, plug straight into the 4-track with barely any preparation (literally what McCartney did on his first solo record) and fly the freak flag with no regard for anyone outside of that small room. This is the natural domain of the B side.

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September 29th, Aquarium Drunkard presents an evening with Steve Gunn and special guest Nathan Bowles at The Living Room in Long Beach. Like the Amen Dunes show earlier this year, this is a house show with limited seating. Tickets available here, and we have a couple pair to giveaway to AD readers. To enter, just leave you name along with a video link of your favorite Gunn related track.

Related: Catching Up With Steve Gunn :: Eyes on the Lines

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On November 4th, Light in the Attic Records releases to follow up to the landmark  I Am The Center new age box set: The Microcosm: Visionary Music Of Continental Europe, 1970-1986.

Like I Am The Center, the collection was produced and conceived by Douglas Mcgowan (Yoga Records) and offers a look at the cosmic sounds of Europe. Classifications get murky — call these selections neuzeit, prog, kosmische, ambient, whatever you like — but the range of this spiritual sequel is expansive, featuring giants like Vangelis, Ash Ra Tempel, and Popol Vuh alongside less heralded but remarkable composers like Bernard Xolotl, Robert Julian Horky, George Deuter, Enno Velthuys, and many more.

Featuring remastered audio and artwork by entomologist Étienne Trouvelot, the set features detailed notes by Mcgowan along with contributions from Aquarium Drunkard scribe Jason P. Woodbury. As a prelude to the box set’s release, we present here an excerpt focused on Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ Wenn Der Südwind Weht, one of the exceptionally beautiful songs featured.

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Several months back I happened upon a survey stating that, according to Neilson, jazz now held the dubious honor of being the least listened to genre in the US. The piece went on state that both “jazz and classical represent just 1.4% of total U.S. music consumption apiece…with classical album sales higher for 2014.”

This soon led to a conversation with pal and record collector/music supervisor Zach Cowie, and we came up with the idea for Abstract Truths, an ongoing forum to invite some of our friends to flex a sampling of their favorites within the medium. Kicking the series off is Cowie, his selections spanning continents, modalities and beyond.

The next two volumes feature Carlos Niño and Eothen ‘Egon’ Alapatt, respectively. Playlist/provenance after the jump.

Abstract Truths: An Evolving Jazz Compendium – Volume One